skip to main content

Lobbying Update: Another Week, Another Brexit Argument

In this week’s lobbying update, find out more about how issues for touring musicians were covered in yesterday’s debate in parliament and what the MU intends to focus on moving forward.

Photo ofIsabelle Gutierrez
By Isabelle Gutierrez Published: 20 January 2021 | 5:29 PM Updated: 28 April 2021 | 4:32 PM
Photograph of a confusing sign post, arrows indicating the same thing are pointing in different directions.
The sheer number of MPs who stood up in parliament yesterday and spoke on behalf of musicians in their constituency was impressive and encouraging.

Another week another Brexit argument between the UK and the EU. The two sides are still disagreeing over who is responsible for the lack of agreement over touring musicians in the post-Brexit world.

Having reported last week that Minister for Culture Caroline Dinenage had said that the UK’s proposals had been based on the MU’s Musicians’ Passport idea, she repeated this assertion in parliament yesterday – no less than five times.

At the same time, the MU has seen correspondence from EU negotiator Guy Verhofstadt that says that the UK’s offer was based on mode 4 commitments. Without getting too technical – if this is correct then the UK proposal was definitely not what the MU was asking for, as it would leave EU countries open to applying their own work permits if they saw fit.

We wrote to Caroline Dinenage yesterday requesting an urgent clarification on this point as well as the publication of the details of the proposals and counter proposals.

During the debate in parliament yesterday, however, the Minister said very clearly that the EU proposals had been less than ideal for performers in that they would have covered ad hoc performances only, would not have covered technicians or other crew members and, crucially, would not have exempted musicians from the need for work permits.

Increased publicity is reason to be hopeful

Although these exchanges do nothing to clarify the situation for musicians, who remain angry and uncertain of what will be required for future touring in the EU, the publicity that this issue is receiving both in and out of parliament is reason to be hopeful that an agreement can still be struck.

The sheer number of MPs who stood up in parliament yesterday and spoke on behalf of musicians in their constituency was impressive and encouraging, and credits all those MU members who have been writing to their MPs.

Our General Secretary Horace Trubridge also attended a meeting with Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport today, and there are plans to set up a working group.

The MU is now focussed on three priorities:

  1. Obtain clarity on the actual proposals made and rejected by both sides and put together an ask that might be acceptable to both sides
  2. Lobby the UK Government to return to the table
  3. Lobby the EU and individual EU Governments through European musicians’ organisations to bring them back to negotiations

Take action now

Add your voice to ours – write to the Prime Minister and your MP. Even if you have already done this on multiple occasions, please consider doing it again. Your views are having an impact – as demonstrated by the increasing numbers of debates in parliament on this issue.

Please do let us know if you lose work as a result of Brexit by emailing campaigns@theMU.org These are vital case studies that we can take to the Government, who always ask for proof of the issues that we highlight to them.

Get MU membership today

From gig players to part-time teachers and professional instrumentalists, MU members can access specialist insurance for musicians. This includes accident cover, health schemes, travel insurance and car insurance add-ons through the Musicians’ Union.

Explore our member services

  • Get public liability insurance for musicians
  • Access expert legal support
  • Be represented in your profession
  • Access expert career advice, resources, and training events
  • Connect, network, and get to know the community of musicians

Learn about all membership benefits

Get MU membership today

Continue reading

Large up close 'Brighton' sign from Brighton Pier against a blue sky.

The MU Returns to Great Escape Festival 2024

As part of our work with the Council of Music Makers, the MU will be taking part in various panel events during the festival’s industry conference, which is being held 15 - 18 May in Brighton. Some of our Officers will also be available for one-to-ones for any members attending.

Published: 23 April 2024

Read more about The MU Returns to Great Escape Festival 2024
Young female Black musician, wearing headphones sat in front of a keyboard in a recording studio.

Black Lives in Music Launch YourSafetyYourSay Survey on Bullying and Harassment in the Music Industry

The survey will inform government legislation, the work of the new Creative Industries Independent Standards Authority and the wider music industry. It will also be used to support BLiM’s forthcoming Anti Racist Code of Conduct. Members are encouraged to share their experiences.

Published: 19 April 2024

Read more about Black Lives in Music Launch YourSafetyYourSay Survey on Bullying and Harassment in the Music Industry
Exterior of Caird Hall in the city centre of Dundee, Scotland.

Representing Our Scottish Members at STUC Congress 2024

This week we attended the annual Scottish Trades Union Congress with MU Delegates Christine Cooper and Ben Lunn, who discussed the importance of music education, community arts in Scotland and establishing a Music Expo Office for the country. All three of our motions were passed unanimously.

Published: 18 April 2024

Read more about Representing Our Scottish Members at STUC Congress 2024